WICHITA, Kan.—Kansas child welfare authorities investigated two reports of possible abuse or neglect involving a Wichita couple in the 17 months before their 3-year-old son was found dead in his crib.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families on Thursday, April 26, completed its investigation into the April 12 death of Zaiden Javonovich, who authorities believe was dead days before his body was discovered.
In a report summary obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, the agency said it found physical abuse and neglect in the case but provided no other details.
Zaiden’s mother, Brandi Marchant, 22, and his father, Patrick Javonovich, 28, are charged with felony murder and child abuse in Zaiden’s death. His body was found April 11 when police went to the home after receiving a call about a domestic disturbance. Zaiden’s 4-month-old brother, who is Marchant’s son, was found injured and hospitalized in critical condition.
In November 2017, the Department of Children and Families investigated possible emotional abuse after a report that Marchant made homicidal and suicidal statements in front of the children. One child who reported a homicidal statement mentioned Zaiden, according to the report. Several people were interviewed but investigators could not substantiate the claim.
A year later, the department was told the younger boy tested positive for marijuana at birth. The case could not be investigated as an abuse/neglect case because medical officials did not indicate the boy’s health was hurt by marijuana use, the summary states.
Instead, a Family in Need of Assessment case was started. A social worker who met with the couple found both children appearing healthy, with all necessary supplies for the infant, according to the report. The parents, who are not married, completed a federally required plan of safe care and in another visit, Marchant completed a Department of Children and Families safety plan. The case was closed Jan. 14.
The Wichita Eagle reported the agency rejected a request for information about the younger boy. Spokesman Eric Smith confirmed the department received a report of alleged abuse and is investigating.
The Wichita area has seen several child abuse homicides. The victims include 3-year-old Evan Brewer, whose body was found encased in concrete, and 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, whose body was found under a rural bridge months after he went missing.
Evans was subjected to months of abuse at the hands of Bodine and Miller—including standing naked and chained for hours and being taunted and slapped while he cried. His body was found in concrete after the couple moved out of their rental home in Wichita.
Miller pleaded guilty in late 2018 to second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, child abuse and aggravated endangering a child. As part of her plea deal, she testified against Bodine, who was convicted of first-degree murder, child abuse, and other charges and is serving a sentence of 109 years and six months in prison.
Lucas was reported missing Feb. 17 by his father’s girlfriend, Emily Glass. His body was found three months later in Harvey County after Glass led a private investigator to the scene. Two weeks later, Glass killed herself, according to an autopsy.
Before Lucas disappeared, the DCF received seven reports of suspected abuse, neglect or lack of supervision involving him, agency spokeswoman Taylor Forrest. The agency’s investigations found the allegations were unsubstantiated. The only report of suspected physical abuse came in May 2017, when the agency said the “alleged perpetrator is Emily Glass or unknown.”
The agency had extensive involvement with both children before their deaths. While campaigning last year, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly repeatedly described problems in the child welfare system as among the most pressing the state faces. Lawmakers now are considering increasing funding to add more child welfare workers.
A4: @ChildWelfareHub Investing in evidence-based prevention programs and community prevention efforts will reduce the number of children exposed to abuse and neglect, ultimately leading to a reduce number of referrals to the child welfare system #CAPMonthChat #NCAPM2019 pic.twitter.com/dxgxG0jswL
— Kristen Torres (@KristenTorresDC) April 25, 2019
Kids Can’t Wait: It is time for HHS to focus on solutions to structural problems in the child welfare system. http://neappl.es/oEhq5T
— Nebraska Appleseed (@neappleseed) July 29, 2011